Does Harvard University discriminate against Asian-Americans in its admissions process?

That's the question on trial in a Boston federal courtroom this week. At issue is whether Harvard unfairly discriminated against an Asian-American applicant who says the Ivy League school held him to higher standards than applicants of other races. This trial will also dissect a contentious political issue in higher education: affirmative action.

But what exactly is affirmative action, and how did it become such a controversial issue?

Harvard University’s longtime dean of admissions defended the school in federal court on Monday as a contentious trial over racial considerations in the admissions process began.

Students for Fair Admissions, the plaintiff in the case, is arguing that there’s no explanation for the racial makeup of Harvard’s first-year classes, except for racial balancing, which the Supreme Court has said is unlawful.

Lawyers laid out their key arguments in opening statements.

Joe Gratz / Creative Commons /

The fallout from a scandal involving the state drug lab in Amherst, Massachusetts, may be nearing an end, but not before even more affected cases are identified.

Affirmative action policies are back under the legal microscope.

A group called Students For Fair Admissions is accusing Harvard University of considering someone’s race too much in the admissions process which, they argue, is making Asian-American applicants meet a higher bar.

The trial begins Monday and is expected to last two to three weeks.

The Hampden County Courthouse in Springfield, Mass., which was renamed the Roderick L. Ireland Courthouse in 2017.
Don Treeger / The Republican /

Massachusetts officials met with employees of a Springfield courthouse Friday over concerns the building is making people sick.